Friday, March 05, 2010

Not so Still Life With Canine

Dog heaven, aka, Cherry Beach, with ice floes breaking up

One of the best things about my new Life with Dog is the outdoors, the fact that I am outdoors. It's walking and going places, in the fresh air, immersed in the landscape, whether I like it or not. And in the past, my usual inclination on a cold day was to not be outside.

Taylor Creek park, after a snowfall

This winter, however, has passed in parks, forests, fresh snowfalls, along wintry lakes with ice floes on the shore. I've seen beautiful skies, and sunsets. Lots of bad weather too, but the good outweighed the bad.

My dog, Izi, (Isadora) is still a puppy, just turned eight months, and she's now more of a dog, assuming her dog shape: legs are long, and snout is long and pointy. She's lost the cute bluntness of the puppy form, but stayed fairly small, which I'm happy about. I look at her sometimes and think: Don't grow, please stay that size, you're perfect now.

Izi on forest path in Greenwood Conservation Area

Taking the dog out, as much as it sometimes feels like the last thing I want to do, gets me out, and away from the laptop. There's one focus: I'm constantly on the lookout for playmates at various dog parks I haunt. She loves other dogs. A trip to the park with no other dog who's a pup or still has puppy energy is a letdown, as playmates help burn off that crazy puppy energy. As they say, "a tired puppy is a good puppy."

"I am too still cute," says Izi.

She's grown. The difference between walking into a dog park with a puppy on the end of a leash and a dog on the end of a leash is noticeable. Puppies generate instant oohs and ahhs. Izi doesn't inspire that any longer. She's not a fashionably cute dog, like the Goldendoodles or Labradoodles you see everywhere. She's a dog dog: a generic-looking classic dog. She's beautiful in her dog way, but no longer cute.

Where she was once the puppy being overwhelmed by the bigger dogs, she can even intimidate little pups now, with her enthusiastic playing. Sometimes she growls as she play fights. She pulls out all the stops to look fierce, bares her teeth. A couple of small dog owners have looked at her and pulled their dogs away. Where did this scary dog come from? It's over the top play-fighting, something that would have put me off too, in my days pre-dog. I'd think, "Are these dogs ready to kill each other?" Apparently its normal dog playing behaviour--the way a kid in a playground growls like a scary monster, chasing another one in a game. I remember doing it myself as a kid, vocalizing to make the game more authentic. Scary, but it stops in an instant. One second she's growling, the next second, she's looking down at the ground to inspect a stick, an extremely interesting stick.

Izi, being eaten by GoldenDoodle

The two combatants will sit side by side to watch a new dog approaching the park. Yay, here come new friends to play with, to steal balls from.

Oh, the ball stealing. The agony of that. But that's a whole other post.


Gail said...

If Izi could read she would be sitting in your lap, licking your face with joy and appreciation. She is a well loved puppy. She knows it! Puppies are adorable or they wouldn't get care~they require a lot of work~ I am a cat person, but after 7 years of doggie visits and dogsitting I think my son's dog rocks. She's beautiful, too, but not like a designer dog. A lovely post and the conservation area is wonderful. gail

Helen said...

Great shots, Sarah. I must say that now having dog auntship has opened my eyes to the canine world, too. It's a whole n'other realm of experience that wouldn't have appeared to me if you hadn't adopted Izi. Having new mid-life experiences keeps our mind from sealing over, so thank you for that.

Alice Joyce said...

YAY!! Sarah, Been waiting some time to see your new compadre. What fun to take a wintery romp with you and Izi.
btw, please follow me @travelgrdnsbuzz on twitter ... I'm there more often now than @BayAreaTendrils
xxoxox Alice
Now on: Alice's Garden Travel Buzz - web site up & running, although I NEED tech support. Any takers?

Kari L√łnning said...

It's been fun to watch as you grow into a dog mom. This morning in the woods, I thought about how if I didn't have Emma's giant eyes pleading for a walk, I too, would spend less time outside when it was bitterly cold or raining, but I'm well trained.

Sarah said...

Gail, I was a life-long cat person too, before this dog. I was actually afraid of dogs for a good part of my life. I still have two cats, they are coping, one just barely, the other one fairly well.
Dogs really do require a lot of work, I'm shocked as to how different it is from looking after a cat, and even now I wonder how I can manage to insert Izi into my daily life/working life. It is challenging.

Glad Izi is a welcome member of our extended fam, Helen. Here's to being unglued, I mean unsealed. :^)

Thanks, Alice, your urging to see puppy pix nudged me to do this post, which I've been meaning to do for awhile. Following your new handle on Twitter now.

Kari, they do such a great job of training us don't they? When Izi is giving me those pleading looks, I'll be thinking of all the other dog owners everywhere getting the same treatment. Solidarity! And it is worth it when you get out there, even if it's nasty...sometimes.

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